Puducherry Minister for Health and MLA representing Mahe in the Puducherry Assembly E. Valsaraj was candid when he admitted at a function held in Mahe on Monday in connection with the reception for a group of delegates from Paris that he missed the opportunity to learn French from his father who acted as an interpreter to French officials. France ruled the small enclave till 1954. The acknowledgement came when speakers greeting the delegates spoke fluent French, much to the surprise of the visitors.

However, it was team leader of the French delegation Douglas Gressieux, president of the L'association les Comptoirs de l'Inde, who stole the limelight.

He was seen nodding while the welcome speech was being delivered in Malayalam. Mr. Gressieux said he could understand some Malayalam words because he knew Tamil pretty well. He even spoke in Tamil.

He had spent a few years in Tamil Nadu, said Mr. Gressieux.